DETROIT -

The Detroit Water and Sewage Department serves all of southeast Michigan.

It draws water out of Lake St. Clair so residents and workers in the region can quench their thirst and use it for any other purpose. Those using the water know it's expensive. That's an increasing trend.

The DWSD is about to shrink in a big way, according to a restructuring plan announced Wednesday. Currently, the department employs just less than 2,000 workers. The intent over the next five years is to cut that number to 374 with support staff coming from private companies.

Read: Detroit Water and Sewage Department efficiency report

That is an 81 percent decrease which is expected to be handled mostly through retirements and resignations.

One of the major concerns from an efficiency study on the DWSD is that there are 257 job classifications blocking much in the way change. That number will drop to 31, 88 percent decrease.

Read more: Rod Meloni: Detroit's winds of change

Detroit mayor says cuts will save $149 million each year

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said the intent is to save $149 million each year to keep price increases from going up a lot.

"One of our top goals is to significantly reduce the (DWSD's) operating costs and lower Detroit's water rate increases," Bing said.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President John Reihl represents the workers whom he says are suffering under union-busting tactics.

"It's a bad idea. Actually do the proper staffing, like the previous director was trying to do, and that way the plants and operation can run properly," Reihl said.

Mayor Bing said this is not union busting. The region cannot afford large increases in water prices and the goal is to keep the price rises at or under 1 percent each year.

"I think they are too many people who fight change and status quo has gotten us to where we are now. We can't continue to go down the same road, doing the same things and expect different results," Bing said.